IBS Speaker Series: The Elephant in the Landscape: Gender, environment and development: From Tanzania to South India

When: Monday, February 3rd 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm
Where: IBS 155
Who: Mara Goldman (UCB, IBS)

Abstract: It is well known that access to, knowledge about, and management of environmental resources diverge across various social categories of difference (i.e. gender, class, cast, class,...). Yet gender is rarely acknowledged as a factor in wildlife conservation research and action, which is often conceived of as a masculinist scientific endeavor. So much so that there is little recognition of other ways of knowing and being with wildlife, the land, or what we have come to call nature, outside of standard scientific, protectionist protocols, even in ‘community-based approaches.’ As such, wildlife conservation efforts around the world often ignore, dismiss, and otherwise marginalize the knowledge and experiences of resident indigenous people, in particular women. The consequences are often dire for people and nature. In this talk I discuss the need to move beyond conservation and development interventions that rely on maintaining boundaries between nature and society, science and other ways of knowing. I begin in Tanzania, East Africa, presenting material from my forthcoming book, Narrating Nature: Wildlife Conservation and Maasai Ways of Knowing, where I use alternative narrative styles, including a traditional Maasai oral meeting, to counter the stories we are used to hearing about nature and expose ways of knowing, being with, and managing nature otherwise. I then present new material looking specifically at women’s stories regarding wildlife, land and ‘the environment’ along with a critique of the gendered nature of wildlife conservation more broadly. Drawing on work in Northern Tanzania and Southern India, I seek to understand how it is that women continued to be marginalized from conservation endeavors, and how gender, environment, and development continue to be decoupled in policy, activism, and even research.

Bio: Mara Goldman is an associate professor of Geography and a fellow in the Institute for Behavioral science at the University of Colorado, Boulder, where she teaches environment-society, development, feminist, and African geographies. She is an affiliate of the Gender and Women’s Studies program and the Center for Native American and Indigenous Studies. She co-edited Knowing Nature: Conversations at the Intersection of Political Ecology and Science Studies, published in 2011 by the University of Chicago Press. She has worked with Maasai pastoral communities in Tanzania and Kenya for over two decades on issues related to the politics of knowledge associated with wildlife conservation, rangeland development, and women’s empowerment. Her publications appear in Conservation, Development, and Geography journals and she has a book coming out in Fall 2020 from University of Arizona press, Critical Green Engagements Series, titled Narrating Nature: Wildlife Conservation and Maasai Ways of Knowing. In 2018 she received a Fulbright Fellowship to study the ways in which difference (gender, caste, class, ethnicity) play out in community-based conservation related research, teaching, and action With Ashoka Trust for Research on Ecology and the Environment (ATREE), in Bangalore India. She is currently working on a project comparing the gendered dynamics of wildlife conservation across India, Tanzania and Namibia.

Light lunch will be served beginning at 11:45am.